Much of fantasy football in-season owner strategy centers around which players to pick up from the waiver wire or to target in the trade market. However, roster spots are a premium resource. Cutting a player - or adding them to a trade - opens a roster spot for a key waiver wire addition or flexibility to keep a currently injured player through a missed game or two. Here are the key players to cut or trade after Week 1:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: Mariota's injury status (elbow) is still up in the air as of publication, but Tennessee's passing game struggled regardless. Plus the upcoming schedule of Houston, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia point to shallow league owners moving on for better streaming options.
Why: Despite a poor (and injured) preseason, Rashaad Penny still split the Seattle backfield nearly 50-50 in Week 1. Carson will see no tiebreakers with the first-round pick, and Seattle had one of the worst performing run games (and run blocking) to open the season. In shallow rosters, Carson is a roster clogger where shooting for more upside with precious running back spots is essential. At best, shop to the Rashaad Penny owner for an upgrade elsewhere.
Why: The Washington offense has two strong running backs to demand touches (Adrian Peterson for interior work, Chris Thompson as the space option) and with Jordan Reed healthy and Paul Richardson Jr added, Crowder is squeezed for upside.
Why: His snaps were projected to be managed and Week 1 was exactly that. It is hard to validate a shallow roster spot to a tight end who sees 41% of snaps and has to contend with A.J. Green, John Ross, and Joe Mixon of note in the Cincinnati passing game. Eifert is a high-variance TE2 relying on a touchdown to have a solid performance. With only one or two roster spots maximum for tight ends in a shallow roster format, seek a more consistent option, even for Week 2.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: Taylor salvaged his fantasy day with a strong 8-77-1 rushing line, but struggled mightily as a passer in what should have been a win over Pittsburgh. The Browns have their best collective roster in years and with the No. 1 overall pick simmering on the sideline, they should not have a long leash for Taylor if his lack of pocket presence and inaccuracy continues.
Why: Wilkins had the expected role for the Colts backfield in Week 1, which largely included empty carries and few passing game opportunities. Wilkins was stuffed on his lone goal-line carry and Nyheim Hines dominated the hurry-up and receiving work. Also, Marlon Mack is likely to return in Week 2 and Robert Turbin after his suspension in October. Wilkins has limited upside and a short window to log meaningful production for fantasy owners.
Why: The Cowboys passing game looked lost, but Williams' snap count was WR5 on the team. Even if Dallas turns things around through the air, Williams has an uphill climb to be worthy of a roster spot.
Why: Jesse James is seeing nearly every snap for the Steelers and Pittsburgh is loaded at wide receiver. Add in McDonald's shoddy injury history and stashing McDonald over a 'one-injury-away' running back or flex option at wide receiver is a losing proposition in medium-depth leagues.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: The assumption was Buffalo would be a tough watch early in the season, if not the entire year. However, Peterman even eclipsed that dismal outlook with less than two yards per attempt, a 28% completion rate, and two interceptions as Josh Allen came on in relief in the blowout against Baltimore. Even in deeper superflex formats, Peterman is the rare exception where it is probably beneficial to start a non-quarterback over Peterman in the superflex spot.
Why: Michael barely played in the Colts Week 1 game and that was with Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin inactive. Michael is multiple injuries away from seeing strong opportunity and would need to be the last man standing in Indianapolis. Thomas (and Mike Boone) were both gameday inactives for Minnesota as Dalvin Cook (80%) and Latavius Murray (20%) saw the running back snaps in Week 1. Thomas is a long hold without a clear story of how to rises to prominence this season.
Why: The former No. 7 NFL Draft pick is healthy (finally), but completely blocked on the Bears depth chart with Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel clearly ahead of White as the WR2 and WR3. White is a roster clogger until he sees a change of scenery and even then will be a complete shot in the dark to emerge to some relevant status.
Why: Dallas is soul-searching with their passing game (and offense as a whole) after a non-performance in Week 1. Geoff Swaim is dominating snaps as the TE1 and Blake Jarwin was the TE2 with some vertical ability as a receiver. Rico Gathers is competing with Dalton Schultz at TE3/4 more than pushing Swaim or Jarwin for legitimate snaps at this point. Outside of the deepest two-tight-end starting leagues shed Gathers from the back end of rosters.